March 17, 2014

Sometimes I Wonder

When I daydream, I reminisce about the many places I’ve been and all the people I’ve met. I like to wonder about what they’re doing now, and where they’re headed. Whether it was my Nicaraguan barber who’s been saving up money to send home, the child asylum seekers in Denmark waiting to hear the result of their appeals, or the Israeli solders who asked me if American college was like what it was in the movies. They’ve never escaped my mind.

I find myself in smoke-filled bars in Serbia, talking about how much Belgrade’s youth grew up on Wu-Tang , or on bus rides through Montenegro passing by minarets in one village and golden domes in the next. I wonder what song’s being played at my favorite Costa Rican spot or  if my Polish taxi driver is still laughing at my bad directions. I wonder if I’ll ever find better chocolate than I did in Vienna.

At night, tired and uncertain, I wonder how dedicated I am to living the rest of my 20s across borders. I think about all of the challenges that face me. My language barrier. Cultural miscommunications. Friendships separated by thousands of miles for the past year. I wonder how far I can push the edge of my comfort zone before falling off.

And then I realize, I’ve  already jumped off cliffs in Montenegro. And they were pretty high.  Despite being terrified, I never regretted the decision to take a leap of faith. And after avoiding the rocks. The aftershock. Catching the air that escaped my lungs. The cliff didn’t look so terrifying after I jumped.

So I kept jumping.

These upcoming weeks could potentially define the next few years of my life. They could light the path to a career in the Foreign Service. It’s been my obsession ever since I got a taste of working with multinational groups of students on diplomacy and the advancement of human rights. It’s more than than just a dream for me. It’s a planned and structured goal that I’ve been working towards with the help of countless Deans, Mentors, Professors and Friends. To engage in cross-cultural communication with foreign audiences and to develop meaningful relationships. To leave an impact. To become more than just us and them. To become the face they think about when they imagine the United States.

It’s all I ever think about.

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